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curious it is, 
that though 
the name of 
paper has its 
origin with the 
Egyptians, the com- 
modity itself, as we 
know it and as it has been known to 
civilization for centuries, has no ge- 
netic connection with the papyrus roll 
of antiquity* As in the case of many 
useful arts, the earliest beginnings 
of paper-making, properly so-called, 
must be traced among the Chinese ; but 
it is worth while to bestow some atten- 
tion upon a material which anticipated 
both the name and function of paper. 


Papyrus is the classical form repre- 
senting the name of an aquatic plant 
called by the Egyptians pa-p-yor, sig- 
nifying "the thing or product of the 
river*" From the Latin the term has 
found its way with slight variations 
into most of the languages of Europe. 
The plant was grown in great abun- 
dance in the marshes of the delta and in 
the pools formed by the overflow of the 
Nile* It is believed, however, not to 
have been indigenous to the country, 
as it is not found in modern Egypt* If 
this was the case, the Egyptians prob- 
ably introduced it from Nubia or Abys- 
sinia, where it still grows wild* It had a 
large root and a smooth, thick, triangu- 
lar stalk rising several feet above the 
water and bearing at the top a beau- 
tiful plume which had its uses in dec- 
orating the statues of the gods* In fact, 
every part of the papyrus plant was 
utilized, so that an astonishing variety 
of articles was evolved from this simple 
reed* The discovery of its value as a 
writing material must date from remote 
antiquity and the process of fabrication 
probably varied but slightly during 
thousands of years. 

Pliny the Elder, a Roman writer of 


the first century of our era, gives the 
fullest account that has come down to 
us of the process of manufacturing the 
papyrus sheet* Unfortunately, owing 
either to the corruptions of the text or 
to Pliny's own imperfect acquaintance 
with the subject, his narrative is in 
some parts obscure* The general fea- 
tures, nevertheless, may be readily 
grasped* It seems to be well established 
now that the raw material was the 
pith of the plant and not the bast or 
thin membranes as formerly was 
assumed, investigation having shown 
that the papyrus, like other reeds, con- 
tains within the rind only a cellular 
pith* This pith was split into thin strips 
with some sharp instrument, Pliny says 
with a needle; but this could hardly 
have been the case* At any rate, how- 
ever done, this primary work demanded 
the greatest care and skill, for no sub- 
sequent treatment could wholly remedy 
a fault committed at this stage* The 
strips thus obtained were laid side by 
side on a table, their edges slightly 
overlapping and secured to each other 
by some adhesive preparation, of which 
Nile water was an essential, or, at least, 
a favorite ingredient. The ends were 


fashioned and cut off evenly* The 
width of the strips would depend, of 
course, upon the size of the stalk, and 
the width of the sheet could be made 
as desired* Over this sheet as described 
was now laid a second formed in the 
same manner, but with the strips cross- 
ing the first at right angles. The whole 
was then subjected to heavy pressure, 
dried in the sun, and finally smoothed 
with a piece of ivory or shell* The 
papyrus roll was formed by gluing 
these sheets together end to end, never 
more than twenty sheets to the roll, 
according to Pliny. In the last particular 
he is in some error, as rolls are extant 
exceeding this limit. Probably the prac- 
tice varied at different epochs. 

Defects in the sheet were either rem- 
edied or concealed by the use of a sizing 
made from wheat flour mixed with 
boiling water and a few drops of vine- 
gar added* But sizing was also used 
merely to give a fine finish to the sur- 
face and for the highest class of work 
was made by straining the water in 
which crumbs of leavened bread had 
been boiled. 

Some eight or nine varieties of papy- 
rus are enumerated, each bearing a dis- 


tinctive name by which it was known 
to the trade* It must be borne in mind 
that the nomenclature given belongs to 
the Graeco-Roman period, but corre- 
sponding no doubt measurably with the 
earlier Egyptian practice* 

The finest quality was known as the 
Augustan, so termed in honor of the 
Emperor Augustus; while the next 
grade bore the name of his wife, Livia. 
Another kind was the Amphitheatrica, 
an inferior quality extensively manu- 
factured near the Amphitheater of 
Alexandria, and which Remmius Fan- 
nius made over at his factory in Rome 
into a first-class article to which he gave 
his own name, the Fannian. Cheaper 
varieties still were the Saitic and 
Taeniotic, the latter sold by weight 
only, while the Emporetic, that is, 
"shop-paper," used only as a wrapping 
material, stood at the foot of the list* 

The width, which in the Augustan 
was not far from twelve inches, nar- 
rowed down through the scale to three 
and one-half inches in the Emporetic, 
which must consequently have been 
wound around packets like a ribbon* An 
improvement on the Augustan brand 
was introduced under the Emperor 


Claudius and hence called the Claudian* 
It consisted in backing the Augustan 
with a coarser sheet to give it body and 
obviate transparency* 

From the papyrus pith the Egyptians 
had succeeded in fabricating an almost 
perfect writing material, light, smooth, 
strong, of convenient size and great 
durability. Indeed, in the last respect, 
nothing was left to be desired* The 
earliest extant specimen of papyrus 
dates from the thirty-sixth century 
B* C* That means that when Israel 
went out of Egypt this bit of papyrus 
was as old even then as all the years 
that have passed since our era began* 

Down to the time of Alexander's 
conquest the papyrus industry was a 
government monopoly, and the sale of 
the product was strictly regulated* As it 
was a common practice in *Egypt to 
wash the writing off and use the papy- 
rus over and over, we may fairly infer 
that in those times the material was 
sold at a considerable price* When under 
Alexander's successors all restrictions 
were removed the trade developed pro- 
digiously and papyrus became one of 
the chief articles of Egyptian export. 
The multiplication of factories and ware- 


houses kept pace with the increased 
demand. At one time in Rome serious 
popular disturbances arose owing; to the 
scarcity of papyrus following- the failure 
of the Egyptian reed crop. This circum- 
stance indicates clearly the staple char- 
acter that the commodity had assumed, 
and proves beyond doubt that the com- 
moner grades at least must have been 
within the popular means. 

The export of papyrus was, indeed, 
at one time prohibited, and with 
important results. A king of Pergamus 
was gathering a library which threat- 
ened the supremacy of the collection at 
Alexandria. Ptolemy, king of Egypt, 
thought to block the ambition of his 
rival by shutting off the supply of 
papyrus. But the crisis in the book 
trade of Pergamus was met by the fab- 
rication of a new product, which, 
under the name of parchment, that is 
"Pergamus paper," was destined to 
share with papyrus for many centuries 
the preferences of authors and copyists. 
In the end, however, the invention 
availed little to the claims of Pergamus 
as a literary center, for in the following 
century, the city having fallen under 
the sway of Rome, its library of two 


hundred thousand volumes was given 
by Anthony to Cleopatra and was by 
her transferred to Alexandria* The dis- 
organization of commerce following 
the Saracen occupation of Egypt in the 
seventh century served to enhance the 
use of parchment. The trade in papyrus 
considerably revived, however, and 
flourished with other arts under the 
domination of the Arabs* Down to the 
ninth century papyrus was commonly 
employed by the Greek scribes; in the 
tenth century it was still used exclu- 
sively in papal deeds, and in various 
localities and for special purposes its use 
persisted for, perhaps, a hundred years 
more; but by the twelfth century its 
manufacture had entirely ceased* 



oF "the Series 


says an Eastern 
write*, u hath 
alighted upon 
three things — the 
brain of the Franks, 
the hands of the Chi- 
nese, and the tongues 
of the Araks," On the 
cunning hands of the Chinese, at any 
rate, first alighted the wisdom to fab- 
ricate paper, and though the brain of 
the Franks has contrived many im- 
proved appliances, the modern process 
of paper making is, in all essentials, 
identical with the methods devised and 


still employed in the Empire of China* 
It is true that the Aztecs made a sort of 
paper from the pulp of the maguey and 
that the aborigines of New Zealand 
even were accustomed to chew up cer- 
tain leaves and fibrous substances, and 
by spreading and drying on a smooth 
surface, made something which might 
be called paper* These* however, are 
merely isolated phenomena and do not 
enter into the great current of history* 
Still it is remarkable that the funda- 
mental principle of so useful an art 
should have been independently reached 
by Aztecs, Maoris, and Chinese, and 
totally escaped the energetic and pro- 
gressive nations bordering the Mediter- 
ranean* It would seem probable that 
papyrus supplied so satisfactory a ma- 
terial that there was no great incentive 
to the discovery of a substitute* The 
Chinese from the time of Confucius, at 
least, say the sixth century B* C*, had 
been accustomed to write with a stylus 
on tablets made from the finely pared 
bark of the bamboo* The brush pencil 
as at present used was invented some 
three hundred years later, and a substi- 
tute for the bamboo tablets was at first 
found in a sort of closely-woven silk. 


This was too expensive for general pur- 
poses and was soon superseded forever 
by the invention of paper* The merit of 
this invaluable discovery is attributed 
to the Marquis Tsai, a Minister of Agri- 
culture under the Han dynasty, who, 
towards the end of the second century 
B* C*, when every encouragement was 
given to men of letters, invented and 
taught in a complete manner the art of 
making paper from the fibres of mul- 
berry and bamboo, and from the ends of 
hemp, old rags, and fishin gnets* It is, 
of course, possible, and perhaps even 
probable, that the noble Marquis has 
reaped the glory of the discovery of 
some humble person, but as to this we 
must always remain in ignorance and 
must concede to Tsai a conspicuous posi- 
tion among the great benefactors of the 

The process of paper making as the 
Chinese have continued to practise it 
from the time of its discovery may be 
readily described, taking bamboo as the 
stock most commonly employed* The 
stalks are sorted according to age, the 
younger shoots making the better paper* 
The first step is to produce a partial 
decomposition of the fibres, the object 


being to tender the stock tender. This 
retting, as we should call it, is a tedious 
process with the Chinese, The bamboo 
stalks are said to be soaked in water for 
perhaps a hundred days before the fibres 
are sufficiently softened to be broken up 
and separated from the bark by beating* 
After this comes a cooking for about a 
week in a solution of lime; washings, 
boilings, and soakings in water and 
ashes follow until the fibres begin to 
decompose, when they have a final 
washing, and are put in mortars to be 
reduced to a pulp with large pestles 
operated by water power when avail- 
able. The pulp is transferred to a vat 
and after being properly diluted with 
water is ready to be converted into 
paper. The workman who now comes 
upon the scene is provided with a rec- 
tangular sieve, usually about two feet 
wide, and three and one-half feet long, 
the meshes of which are formed of 
bamboo splints, oiled, and polished, and 
fastened with raw silk. A detachable 
rim, that is to say "the deckel," is laid 
upon the framework of the sieve and 
held firmly in place by the hands, the 
whole forming the mould. The operator 
dips this apparatus into the vat, the 


contents of which are kept in constant 
agitation, and takes up a trayful of the 
liquid material* A few deft shakes serve 
to interlace the fibres and the water 
rapidly draining: off leaves a sheet de- 
posited on the sieve* The deckel is lifted 
off and the mould passed to a second 
workman who. in turning it up-side- 
down on the slanting surface of a kiln 
covered with gypsum, disengages the 
sheet* which is left for a time to set and 
dry* The sheets are finally placed in a 
pile one upon the other and subjected to 
heavy pressure* after which they are 
hung up to completely dry* Sizing is 
not commonly used* 

Chinese paper is very light and soft, 
but possesses great strength and fine- 
ness* The best qualities are made in the 
northeastern provinces of the empire 
where a greater variety of stock is used* 
while the paper of the south is produced 
principally from the bamboo which 
gives a yellowish color and a rather 
coarse texture. In Peking there is said 
to be a quarter inhabited solely by peo- 
ple whose occupation is making into 
paper the rags which they collect 
through the streets of the great city, 
and which they reduce to pulp by beat- 


ing on stone* The invention of paper 
contributed largely to the spread of the 
literary spirit for which the Chinese 
have always been remarkable* Paper 
has also assumed among them great 
importance in domestic economy* and a 
good supply of paper is not infrequently 
stipulated in marriage contracts* 

The art of paper making was prac- 
ticed for centuries within the limits of 
the empire before it became known even 
to the near neighbors of the Chinese. It 
was not until 610 A*D. that a knowl- 
edge of it was carried to Korea, and from 
thence to Japan* so complete was the 
isolation of the Chinese, who do not ap- 
pear to have made any secret of their 
craft. A century later the wave of Arab 
Conquest touched the western borders 
of the Chinese dominions* and we shall 
next have to trace the progress and vi- 
cissitudes of our art through the vast 
empire of the Chalifs* 

of* "tbe Series 

O art of writing; 

■ ■ • 

$7 II Wa W ~ WaS an Un ~ 

j£>I ]lfftjsual accomplishment 

1 among: the Arabs in the 
time of Mohammed, and 
the common writing: ma- 
terial of their neighbors, 
papyrus or parchment, 
was a rare exotic in Arabia* The 
Koran itself, as its various portions 
were from time to time revealed, was 
to some extent entrusted to memory, 
but was more generally taken down 
by the secretaries of the prophet on 
almost anything: at all suitable that 
happened to be at hand* Zaid ibn 



Thabit, who was entrusted with the 
task of first collecting into one whole 
the scattered fragments of the work 
some years after Mohammed's death, 
gathered it, we are told, from strips 
of cloth, palm leaves, skins, smooth 
stones, the shoulder blades of sheep, the 
bones of camels, and from the memory 
of men. The scarcity of a good writing 
surface could hardly be more empha- 
sized; for Mohammed was rich and 
powerful for years before his death, and 
these scattered revelations were regarded 
as the very words of Allah himself. It 
must be added, however, that at this 
time the Arabs set no great store upon 
written documents among themselves, 
that some of their tribes possessed a 
considerable unwritten literature, and 
that many of the Moslems knew the 
Koran by heart, and it was only when 
the ranks of these "Carriers of the 
Koran n had been thinned in a bloody 
battle that the project of collecting the 
work in a single written volume was 

Whatever may have been the pov- 
erty, ignorance, or carelessness of the 
Arabs at this time as regards writing 
material, they were destined not long 


after to become expert paper makers 
themselves, and to spread a knowledge 
of the art over the whole world of civili- 

Chinese paper became known to the 
Saracens about the middle of the VII 
century as an article obtained by way 
of Samarcand, the great Emporium of 
Central Asia, but it was a century later, 
when they had extended their conquests 
beyond the Oxus, and had for some time 
established themselves in Samarcand, 
that the process of paper making came 
into their possession* This important 
event coincides with the battle of Atlah, 
fought between Arabs on one side and 
Turks and their Chinese auxiliaries on 
the other in the year 75 1 A, D. Among 
the captives brought back into Samar- 
cand by the victorious Moslems were 
found certain Chinese skilled in the art 
of paper making, and the enterprising 
and energetic Arabs were not long in 
setting them to work at their trade for 
the profit of their masters, a proceeding 
with many parallels in oriental history* 
The Persian speaking population of 
Chorasan, the province in which Samar- 
cand lay, took up the art, and prosecuted 
it for a considerable time, the Arabs 


themselves being too busy with their 
wars and other matters* To these Per- 
sians is probably due the very important 
step of employing linen rags as material 
for the fabrication of paper* The term 
for paper which the Arabs adopted from 
them was Kaghid, derived, as the Per- 
sians believe* from the word Kagh, 
which in their tongue signifies a rustling 
or crackling noise* though this etymol- 
ogy is regarded as superficial and the 
true origin of the term is most likely 

Samarcand developed its new industry 
rapidly* and the fame of its paper spread 
and continued for centuries* It was a 
common saying that the people of Cho- 
rasan were as skillful as though they 
formed a part of China* and in fact 
Chinese influence was long prevalent 

It is curious to note how custom 
has persisted in the nomenclature of 
paper fabrics* The Romans* it will be 
remembered, styled several brands of 
papyrus in honor of Augustus, Livia. 
or Claudius* as the case might be. and 
in Samarcand they followed a similar 
politic or patriotic principle in distin- 
guishing some of their grades with 


which we are acquainted* Several des- 
ignations were taken from the names 
of governors of Chorasan* or from great 
officers of the Mohammedan state* 
Among them we find the "Jaafar" 
brand which does honor to the famous 
vizier of Haroun al-Rashid* The "Pha- 
rao" quality was designed no doubt to 
compete with the Egyptian papyrus* 
The "Saltan" enjoyed great favor* as 
also the Samarcand "Silk" paper* 
which was* however* made from linen 
rags* and received its name from the 
soft silky touch it obtained from a light 
sizing of soap and the use of a glassy 
polishing stone* It was clearly an imi- 
tation of a Chinese article* 

Samarcand* the mother city of the 
paper trade in Islam* monopolized the 
manufacture for about fifty years* The 
spreading of the art through the domin- 
ions of the Chalifs began with the 
adoption of paper for official use in the 
various departments of the government* 
The Ommeyads who held their court 
at Damascus had commonly employed 
papyrus rolls for their despatches, pub- 
lic documents and records* Under their 
successors the Abbaside Chalifs* who 
established their capital at Bagdad* 


parchment seems to have quite gen- 
erally supplanted the Egyptian fabric. 
It is related that during some disturb- 
ances early in this period the public 
offices were sacked and the records, 
which were all on parchment, were car- 
ried off, and, the writing having been 
washed off, the parchment was sold for 
writing material, and it is said to have 
been sufficient to satisfy the needs of 
the inhabitants for a long time. The 
credit of the innovation which substi- 
tuted paper for the older material in 
the governmental offices is due to the 
all powerful vizier Jaafar, though it 
may be conjectured that he was largely 
influenced by the advice of his brother 
who had been governor of Chorasan 
and had probably there become 
acquainted with the value of the prod- 
uct of the Samarcand paper workers* 
One of the principal motives for this 
step was, no doubt, that, aside from the 
costliness of parchment, writing on this 
or on papyrus could easily be scratched 
or washed out, which could not be 
done on paper without leaving easily 
discernible traces. 

$Tb6 FaurW>£'& 
^crFijbe Series 




the official adop- 
tion of paper 
In the various depart- 
ments of the government 
and the establishment at Bagdad of 
a paper mill under government con- 
trol, which occurred about 795 A. D., 
the fortunes of the fabric may be 
regarded as permanently settled, and 
the way opened for its rapid spread* It 
was not long before paper works were 
in operation in all parts of the Moslem 
world. In Bagdad the industry flour- 
ished well into the fourteenth century, 
the product being distinguished for its 
admirable quality and the sheets being 


made up of unusual size for the special 
purposes of the state. In Arabia itself 
factories were soon in operation on the 
southwest coast, though the account of 
a paper mill at Mecca which formerly 
ran through books on this subject has 
no secure basis* In the tenth century- 
paper making was prosecuted in Yemen 
along with the thriving kindred industry 
of bookbinding* 

Paper making does not seem to have 
taken root very early in Egypt, notwith- 
standing the favorable circumstances of 
a large linen industry, and an inex r 
haustible supply of rags from the mum- 
my cloths of ancient tombs, rifled by 
Bedouins either for their own clothing 
or for immediate sale to paper workers. 
Probably the papyrus factories made a 
hard fight against the intruder on their 
own grounds. Nevertheless the newer 
and better article eventually won, and 
by the tenth century paper making was 
firmly established in the valley of the 
Nile. Some very beautiful and delicate 
specimens of Egyptian paper are still to 
be seen in the collection of the Archduke 
Rainer at Vienna. Cairo was the center 
of the Egyptian paper trade and one of 
its thoroughfares bore the name of u old 


paper makers street." A specialty of the 
Egyptians was the so-called "Bird 
paper," made extremely light but firm 
for use of the "Pigeon post" which 
was operated systematically by the gov- 
ernment, and by means of which the 
capital was kept constantly and prompt- 
ly advised of all matters even from the 
uttermost parts of the realm* 

Tiberias in Palestine and several 
places in Syria prosecuted the art of 
paper making. In all this region, how- 
ever, Damascus was by far the most 
conspicuous in this respect. Under the 
name of Charta Damascena its paper 
became famous through Europe, and in 
the East, as Syrian paper, seriously 
rivalled the output of the Bagdad mills. 

At Fez in North Africa the trade 
must have reached great dimensions, as 
it is stated that four hundred mill stones 
were there busy in making paper. 

The industry in Spain was located at 
Xativa, a beautiful, fortified city not 
far from Valencia. The excellence of its 
paper was proverbial and it supplied the 
demands of all Andalusia. The art of 
linen making had flourished here even 
from the time of Pliny, and this fact 
probably attracted the paper industry. 


At the other extremity of the Arab 
dominion the manufacture of paper 
was carried on among the Hindoos, 
whose earlier writing surface had been 
supplied by the birch bark and the 
palm leaf* 

The materials used by the Arab 
paper makers were linen rags and, to 
some extent, hemp and ravelled cordage* 
Their methods were practically those 
of the Chinese, though they have the 
credit of employing the mill stone run 
by water to reduce their stuffs to pulp. 

In respect to colors, some interesting 
details may be noted* The ground color 
of the Arab paper makers was white, as 
with us, and they had early learned the 
art of producing a pure white, so that 
** white as paper n was a common ex- 
pression among them* Their blue tints 
were obtained from indigo and cobalt* 
In a large part of the Mohammedan 
world blue was the mourning color, and 
sentences of death were drawn up on 
blue paper. It was an unhappy selection 
of color, then, when the Byzantine Em- 
peror sent to the Chalif of Cordova a 
magnificent Epistle in letters of gold on 
a blue ground* In Persia, on the other 
hand, medicines were wrapped in blue 


paper as a good omen. Notwithstanding 
the fact that Mohammed himself had 
stigmatized red as "an adornment of 
Satan/' it enjoyed great favor among 
the faithful as a fortunate and festive 
color in all its shades* It was also re- 
garded as the color of humanity and 
was worn by the oppressed and needy 
to attract public attention, and it was 
related that a deaf Indian King had 
ordained this custom that he might 
readily recognize cases demanding at- 
tention* In Persia these peculiar red gar- 
ments were made of paper and were 
worn also by the plaintiff in court* so 
that u paper shirt n became a slang term 
for law suit* Yellow was next to red the 
favorite color of the Oriental paper 
makers, and even before the introduction 
of paper the Persians had been accus- 
tomed to dye parchment and papyrus a 
safron hue* An astonishing variety of 
yellow shades is exhibited in the manu- 
script collections* Yellow being the 
color of wealth and magnificence* pa- 
per colored with safron enjoyed speci- 
ally high consideration* Variegated 
paper served for all kinds of ornamen- 
The sizing employed by the Arabs 


has been shown by the microscope to 
have been a paste of wheat starch* 

Notwithstanding the great debt which 
European civilization owes to the Arab 
paper maker, but one technical term of 
this trade of Arabic origin has been 
bequeathed to us* Our word "ream" is 
derived through the old French "resme/* 
from the Arabic "rizma," which means 
simply a bundle* or a package; but this 
word is one of the many signposts* as 
they have been called, which indicate 
the route from East to West which has 
been travelled by so many arts and sci- 


used m the makjk? 

for the cover** 


f oi'tbfi pases* 


■ ■ I « —■ ■IIIII U M IW I I J ll l ll— MB— — > 

Rilcb in color* 
V aNd texture* 
"^j \Nd durable-